Learn from a Leader: How to renovate a neighborhood basketball court

Our Learn from a Leader series is our way to share the tremendous, varied expertise of our leaders with the whole ioby community. We hope you enjoy!

Daniel Peterson is founder and director of Project Backboard, a Memphis nonprofit that makes basketball courts safer, more inviting, and more fun in order to inspire and strengthen communities. “Having our town’s courts renovated when I was in high school really changed the trajectory of my life,” he says. “If you make even minor improvements that draw people out of their cars and off their bikes and out of the house and into the parks, then you start getting that social interaction that strengthens community ties.”



[photo by David Leonard]

Basketball is the most popular recreational sport in the United States across all ages and genders. The balance of individual contribution and potential for group excellence makes the game equally shareable with friends, family, neighbors, and strangers. Improving public court facilities invites people to both work on their skills and play games together, increases park usage and safety, and bolsters community.



  1. Identify a court and get permission to paint it. If you’re thinking of a court in a public park, contact your town’s parks department. If you’d like to refurbish a court on church property, in a schoolyard, etc., get in touch with the management there. If you want to tackle painting any walls or stands that border the court as well, mention this too.
  1. Gather a team and decide on your design. One person can do this project solo, but it’ll be more fun and go faster if you get a few other friends or fans involved; three to five total teammates is a solid number. Then think about your design: Are you going for full or half court? Do you want to paint your keys? Will you stick with black and white, use a local team’s colors, or get fancy with graphics? Want to enlist a local artist to help with court design, or put a mural on the sidewall?
  1. Raise money! Use ioby! Repainting a court isn’t a super-pricey project (see budget below), so raising enough money shouldn’t be too tough, and ioby will help you every step of the way. Get started by filling out an idea form.
  1. Get supplies. Some of the supplies you’ll need are one-time use (like paint and tape), but you can definitely borrow others, like ladders, paint trays, and rollers. (Borrowing stuff is also great because it gets other people interested and invested in your project!) Dark and black paint will work better than light, but use professional grade no matter what. Concrete paint (for garage floors) is designed to withstand a lot of footprints, so use this for the bulk of the court. You can spray paint your keys and lines.
  1. Have a renovation party (and maybe a celebratory cookout afterward)! It’s good to have two or three people for the measuring phase, then three to five for painting (more hands than this can be useful, but everyone might not have a job to do at every moment). Once all the work is done, consider throwing or helping the property owner to organize a cookout to celebrate and inaugarate the new court. A party is another great way to engage your neighbors: ask a local grocer if they would consider donating hot dogs to the event; offer to put a sign up with their business name in exchange.




Planning the design and colors you want for most courts will probably take an afternoon (or longer if you want to go all-out with graphics!). One person can paint a court in about eight hours; with a group, you’ll cut your time in half. If you prime the concrete, you’ll need to let it dry for at least two hours before painting; if you use multiple paint colors, you’ll need to add about one hour of dry time between each. Prime and paint in the morning, so you can be done and dry by the time school gets out! And pay attention to the season with regard to your paint: some concrete paints shouldn’t be used below 56℉.



An average total cost for a refurbishment is around $430. If you don’t paint the keys a color, and just want to add the lines, you can reduce your costs to about $230. (But Daniel’s suggestion is to aim high!)




You will need the following to paint lines and color the keys and center circle:

  • 12 cans of spray paint ~ $65
  • 2 gallons of concrete primer ~ $40
  • 3 gallons of concrete paint in your choice of colors ~ $110
  • You may be able to borrow some painting supplies, but you will need 2 rollers for the primer and 2-3 for the paint ~ $20. If your court is concrete, you can use a 3/8 inch nap roller, but if you’re painting blacktop, you’ll want 1/2 inch. (If you borrow your paint trays, put a tray liner in each one—these cost about 90 cents each, versus $3.50 for the whole tray.) Add an additional $20-$30 if you can’t borrow any rollers or trays.
  • For the sidelines and baselines, you’ll need a three-pack of painter’s tape ~ $25
  • The court stencil will cost you $150 (there are cheaper ones, but buyer beware). Two good options: Ronan’s Easy Court and Dazadi. (Or, if you live in Memphis, you can borrow Daniel’s!)


additional resources

Project Backboard

– Cool court design ideas:

Viral Hoops

Pigalle and Nike

21 Amazing Courts Worldwide

– You can reach out to Daniel at dpeterson@projectbackboard.org with any questions—he’s super nice!